Ireland Day 3 – Irish Boxty

For Ireland’s third dish I bring you more potatoes! This simple and tasty dish was first made in the 1700s and was easy enough to make due to the use of potatoes, a widely available staple.

The first preparations of boxty used the following ingredients of grated potatoes, either oatmeal or flour, egg yolk, milk, and butter or animal fat. Many would transform tin cans into graters. Traditionally these “potato cakes” were cooked over the stove in a pan. The more modern approach to this meal does not differ dramatically, you can find the recipe here.

The combination of mashed with raw potatoes gives this dish a nice texture. Sometimes the cakes are served with a rich stout reduction sauce or a simple tab of butter- we used sour cream! 😍

Often times it’s recommended to serve these cakes with sausage and veg. We opted for honey glazed carrots and parsnips with thyme and rosemary along with kielbasa which is not traditional but what we prefer.

Oh the versatility of a potato. This recipe forever changes the game for leftover mashed potatoes! It was a wonderful surprise especially with the addition of sour cream. The carrots and parsnips were a lovely side and completed the meal. Don’t underestimate the ack of meat in this dish because these little cakes will fill you up! We rated them 8.5/10.

(102) Netherlands – Boerenkool Stamppot

The Zaanse Schans Windmills. Source: The Globe Guide

Welcome to the Netherlands, a Northwestern European country which borders the North Sea, Belgium, and Germany. Netherlands means “low-lying country” which is indeed a true fact. The country is relatively flat with 25% of the country being below sea level, and 50% 3ft or less above sea level. When many think of Netherlands you think of tulips right? Even though the Dutch are the world’s largest exporters of flower bulbs, tulips are not native. Tulips originate in Turkey and were imported in the 16th century. Another big export of the country is beer which they rank the 2nd largest in the world. The Dutch really like their booze because they are also the inventors of gin which was created in the 16th century and introduced to the British. Sounds like they know how to have a good time!

When it comes to the cuisine of Netherlands the country is relatively healthy and is the 2nd largest exporter of vegetables in the world. With veggies on the mind there are two other key ingredients to the Dutch dinner- meat and potatoes! Back in the 1800s potatoes were eaten with every meal since they were widely available and inexpensive. With colonization and trading of goods during the Golden Age (1581 to 1672) Dutch cuisine is quite the fusion of flavors. The national dish of the Netherlands is called stamppot, doesn’t that sound appetizing?

There are a variety of ways to prepare stamppot, but the base always is mashed potatoes. The variations come from the vegetables that are mixed in, whatever is available in the kitchen! This meal is said to be one of the oldest Dutch meals and used to be a staple dish in the winter. Using the seasons past crops and the heartiness of the potatoes and sausage left you warm and full with little expense. Boerenkool translates to kale and is the type of stamppot I prepared with the addition of carrots. This is the recipe I used.

The meal was easy enough to prepare. I made a basic gravy using a rue which turned out to be more pale than I had anticipated- I suspect I needed more time to get the deeper brown color. I substituted my go to kielbasa for the sausage because of the more desirable texture and leaner meat (I go for turkey). I made sure to liberally season the potatoes with nutmeg, nothing is worse than bland mashed potatoes!

We found this dish to be very hearty with a nice mix of veggies and kielbasa. The warmth from the nutmeg was notable and a pleasant. The gravy paired well, however it also made the dish heavier and more filling. I didn’t chop the kale fine enough, but I think this element helped lighten the meal. We rated it 6.5/10.

(97) Austria – Jägerschnitzel

Hallstatt, Austria. Source: Finduslost.com

Getting closer to 100, how amazing the journey has been! Austria marks 97, another scenic destination in all seasons. It borders Slovenia, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary. This country is very mountainous containing the Northern Calcareous Alps, Southern Calcareous Alps, and the Central Alps which roughly makes up over 60% of the country. The world’s largest ice cave can be found in Werfen and spans 26 miles. As it seems pretty obvious Austria is known for its winter sports and outdoor adventures. A lesser known fact is that the beloved energy drink Red Bull was created in Austria. Now for the real good stuff..

Austrian, also known as Viennese cuisine, is a fusion of the past Austro-Hungarian Empire. Several cooking methods are used including stewing, frying, boiling, braising, and roasting. Meat is usually at the heart of the meal and common accompanying ingredients include mushrooms (especially local wild ones), Paprika is no stranger in an Austrian’s kitchen. Like many other countries the specific cuisine differs on providence.

For Austria we decided to go with a classic recipe- jägerschnitzel (which translates to hunter’s cutlets from German). Not only is it a fun word to say, but it is an adored dish in Austria and surrounding countries. It was originally made from venison or other wild game and topped with a creamy mushroom sauce. The meat is pounded until it becomes a thin cutlet and fried. The mushroom sauce contains white wine, heavy cream, and butter- name a dreamier combination? Now that you are salivating you better check out the recipe.

Ian cooked this dish which he found to be straight forward which is just how he likes it. The preparation of the sauce was crucial as this is what really brought the meal together. The mushrooms do not take long to cook, but it is important they have the opportunity to absorb all the essence from the paired ingredients.

This dish was excellent. The sauce was perfectly creamy with a buttery flavor. The mushrooms really absorbed that sweetness from the sauce which tasted divine on the pork. The pork was well seasoned and cooked perfectly. This well rounded dish deserved an 8.75/10 rating.

(94) Seychelles – Creole Prawn Curry

A beautiful Seychelles beach. Source: CNN.com

Doesn’t that look nice? I would love to be sticking my toes in that warm, white sand.. but instead of sand I’m stuck with white snow. Anyways.. welcome to Seychelles! You can find this African country in the Indian Ocean north of Madagascar. Seychelles is an archipelago made up of 115 islands with 8 being having the majority of inhabitants. Interestingly there were no inhabitants until the late 1700s when the French discovered the islands. These are the only islands in the world that are formed from granite versus typical volcanic or coral elements. The worlds largest seed, Coco de Mer, can weigh up to 40lbs and can be found on two of the 115 islands making it heavily (pun intended) protected due to its variety.

The cuisine of the island is like many other neighboring islands. Local produce and seafood dominate the main course which includes shark chutneys and fish curries. You can eat the cherished Coco de Mer seeds however due to their size and harvesting rules many do not. Breadfruit is very popular here and according to legend if you eat breadfruit here you will return some day. I used this recipe which was actually created by Chef Daniel Louis on the island of Mahe, Seychelles. The recipe is for traditional shrimp creole curry. Creole cuisine ) is a mix of African, French, Spanish, and Caribbean influences that involve a lot of spice and heat using simple cooking methods.

Cooking and preparation was simple using basic cooking techniques. I liked that this recipe used a whole cinnamon stick to give a deeper flavor. Good thing I still have 50+ from a previous order..🙃

As you know we love shrimp dishes and this one didn’t disappoint! We enjoyed the warmth from the ginger and curry, however it did remind us of some dishes we have made before. The shrimp pairs well with these flavors and the coconut rice is just a given at this point (it is the only way to eat rice with curry flavors). We though it was deserving of a 7.25/10. Side not still not a huge fan of eggplant- think I will pass in the future🍆

Mexico Day 2 – Elotes

Mexico is home to the most diverse corn in the world with a total of 64 varieties found throughout the country. This crop was first domesticated in Honduras (6600 BCE – 3500 BCE) and eventually made its way up to Mexico where it was used greatly by the indigenous people. Today we will be honoring that staple by making elotes or as most know it Mexican street corn! Elote was born in Mexico City and quickly spread throughout the Americas. It became popular because it was portable and tasty! Restaurants sometimes will serve this up as a side dish, but tonight it is the dish! Recipes can vary and include an array of toppings but I decided to go the classic route.

First you start by cooking the corn. Traditionally you would grill them, but I chose to boil them. While the corn is preparing combine the remaining ingredients to make your sauce. If you are unfamiliar with cotija cheese it reminds me of feta with a similar texture.

Once your corn is cooked just slather the sauce on evenly and garnish with cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice. Be warned a little sauce goes a long ways! If you want a kick you can add a little chili powder (not pictured).

Ian was a bit overwhelmed by the sauce and found it tasty but very heavy, I on the other hand thought it was heavenly. I think if you are able to grill the corn it would have elevated the dish. We made up some chicken to go with the meal but it honestly is so filling it could have been eaten alone. We rated it 7/10!

(90) Mongolia ?- Mongolian Chicken

Source: Nature Mongolia (Youtube)

After our journey west we are going northeast to Mongolia. This eastern Asian country is bordered by China and Russia and is one of the largest landlocked country in the world. It is also the least populated country with over 25% of its inhabitants living the nomadic lifestyle. Mongolia is sometimes referred to as “the land of blue skies” because of how often the skies are clear. The Gobi desert makes up the southern border of the country and has an impressive dinosaur fossil reserve. Wild horses run abundant here with a ratio of 13: 1 to humans. Endangered snow leopards and two hump Bactrian camels are also native here.

In Mongolia there are some truly unique traditions around their food. “Airbag” or fermented horse milk is one of the most popular drinks with spiritual importance. Another popular food despite below freezing temperatures is ice cream! It is believed to be first created in Mongolia but it wasn’t the sweet treat we love today but rather meats stored in intestines and the jolting from riding on a horse made an ice cream like substance.. I’ll pass!

Mongolian cuisine primarily consists of meats, fats, and dairy products due to the climate and resources of the country. Due to its location China and Russia have influenced their cuisine. Today I make a better known dish- Mongolian chicken! This simple but incredibly savory meal can be found in Chinese and Asian fast-food restaurants and was actually invented in Taiwan. I did not realize the lack of Mongolian authenticity until after the fact so there will be a Mongolia round two..🙃 Does that mean I need to round up some intestines and a wild horse? Nonetheless lets continue, here is the recipe.

Well at least it was easy to prepare and took few ingredients. I decided to add some golden zucchini (glorified zucchini) to the dish to add color and balance. The cornstarch was definitely a game changer and allowed the sauce to coat evenly.

This was a meal we needed! Simple, quick, and delicious- check, check and check! The chicken was insanely delicious, the sauce was very similar to teriyaki, and this could have earned the perfect 10 if it had more elements to the dish. I can see myself making this in the future using this recipe as the base to a bad ass stir fry! 9.5/10, so close darling! We will have Mongolia take two in the future to find the real deal.

(84) South Korea – Beef Bulgogi

Seoul, South Korea. Source: Cushmanwakefield.com

Welcome to South Korea, our 84th country! You can of course find South Korea on the border of North Korea, The Yellow Sea, and The Sea of Japan. The city of Seoul is the largest of South Korea and the world’s third largest city with a population of 25 million people! Outside of the bustling city you can admire the traditional Hanok architecture in Hanok Village which is situated between two of the large palaces from the Joseon Dynasty. Interestingly, in South Korea you don’t turn a year older until New Year’s Day, and from birth you are a year old. From yummy food to popular music South Korea has left its mark on the United States.

There are a few foods that come to mind when you think of South Korea- kimchi (fermented cabbage and vegetables), bibibaps, and soondae (blood sausage) to name a few. Their cuisine has evolved greatly over time due to political and social events. Rice, vegetables, seafood, and meats make up most meals while sesame oil, gochujang (fermented chili paste), doenjang (fermented bean paste), and soy sauce are common ingredients. Koreans are very into fermented foods which add a unique flavor to any dish. Our dish we are making today, beef bulgogi, will have a side of kimchi.

Beef bulgogi is a marinated, thinly sliced (oops) beef that is often grilled or sautéed served over rice or wrapped up in lettuce. The origins of the meal date back to Goguryeo era, which was 37 B.C. to 668 A.D. It started out as skewered meat known as maekjeok and over time evolved to neobiani which was marinated beef that was grilled and often eaten by the upper class and royalty. By the early 20th century beef was more available in Korea and ultimately became the bulgogi we know today. There is a slightly different interpretation of the dish which is more a beef broth meal. So I actually did neither preparation and sautéed the meat in its marinade- yum! Can you smell that garlic? Recipe can be found here.

After my meat marinated for 24 hours I cooked it as directed via skillet. I decided to let it cook with most of the marinade to make sure it would stay tender. Luckily this meal as another easy one to do during the work week. To achieve the cucumber ribbons I used a veggie peeler.

What a pretty plate! We loved this colorful meal and how each element brought something special to the dish. The meat was very tender and well seasoned. The ginger as always pulls through with a garlic punch. We always find the addition of cucumber refreshing and helps cut the spiciness. This dish was deserving of a solid 8/10.

(82) Portugal – Caldo Verde Soup

Lisbon, Portugal. Source: Everything Overseas

Portugal, a southern European country is found on the Iberian Peninsula. It neighbors Spain and the Atlantic Ocean making it a hot surf spot. It is one of the oldest countries of Europe dating back to 1200 BC and is home to the oldest library in the capital Lisbon. Portugal is a large producer of Port Wine and cork (makes sense), one of the largest in the world! Other than surfing you can explore historical sites and take in the breath-taking views.

From Portuguese travel they developed a distinguished cuisine full of flavors from around the globe. The cuisine of Portugal is influenced by the spice trade of Asia, flavors and seasonings Europe, Africa, and South America. Some of the food comes from the region of Portugal with utilization of the Atlantic waters for fresh seafood. Kale, chicken, sausage, rice, cod, sardines, and olives are some of the more common ingredients found in Portuguese cooking, some of which are in this dish. Today I prepared caldo verde soup which is a hearty combination of chouriço sausage, kale, beans, and veggies. As you can see I substituted chorizo instead (no downfall there). The recipe can be found here.

Come to find out my chorizo would break apart into tiny bits once I added it to the stew. I would say that was the only downfall to the meal. It was pretty simple to follow the recipe and didn’t take too long to make. Just look at those colors!

We thought this soup had a nice balance of spicy and citrus flavors. The lemon zest definitely paired well with the creaminess of the broth. I loved the nice variety of veggies and overall thought the soup was hearty and savory. You could also do without the sausage and still have a wonderful meal. We would make this one again and rated it 8.25/10!

(79) Cooks Islands – Moana-Roa Mahi Mahi

Mitiaro Cave of Rarotonga Island. Source: Pinterest

Hello fellow foodies, today we are at the Cooks Islands, a group of 15 islands in the South Pacific. You can find these scattered islands below Tahiti and close to New Zealand. Rarotonga is the capital island and most populated with approximately 13k inhabitants. This country was named after the exploring Captain James Hook, however he never visited the islands. Known for its tropical beauty the islands are not overdone with fancy resorts and flashy lights- actually no stop lights either! You can explore the limestone caves, pristine sandy beaches and underwater scuba excursions. The Cooks Islands is a top producer of the black pearl- a very scientific and precise process of inseminating oysters with sphere like shells. Over time the oyster will avoid the foreign object ultimately coating shell to make a black pearl over a few years time.

The Cooks Islands pride themselves of clean waters and immaculate seafood which their cuisine is filled with. Coconut and other native fruits are commonly eaten as well. All other foods are imported from their neighbor New Zealand. Today to honor the Cooks Islands I made Moana-Roa Mahi Mahi with a side of beats and salad (my easy way out of not making a potato salad). This traditional island fare includes taro leaves, green bananas, coconut cream, ginger, taro root, and more to accompany the fish. If you want to experience the real deal try this dish.

Once again there was no mahi mahi at my local store so I used tuna steaks instead! I also could not get taro roots or leaves so I substituted potatoes and spinach. This was definitely a new for us since we can never prepared or eaten bananas in a savory fashion before. I think this was easy enough to make just difficult to get my hands on all the right ingredients!

We thought the Cooks Islands brought unique flavors to the table. The bananas and fish may sound super strange, but the combination was actually pretty good. The cooked bananas didn’t lose their flavor and tasted like the uncooked fruit. It was surprisingly pleasant, but didn’t blow us away. We rated it 6.5/10.

Before traveling to ITALY we will be making a pit stop in Puerto Rico! Stay tuned!!

(77) Liberia – Liberian Chicken Gravy

Hey guys I’m back! Summer time brings a lot of outdoor adventures and less time at the computer and stove to bring you more content. Hope you are also enjoying your summer!

Pygmy hippopotamus, Source: Dinoanimals.com

Before we get to it, lets first learn a little bit about Liberia! Liberia is a West African country that borders the Atlantic Ocean, Sierra Leone, Côte d’Ivoire, and Guinea. English is mostly spoken here, however there are 20 indigenous languages still spoken today. It is the oldest African republic and was the first to gain its independence in 1847; its name literally translating to “land of the free.” This beautiful country is home to incredible surfing, over 700 bird species, the endangered pygmy hippopotamus, and Sapo National Park (which contains a portion of West Africa’s primary rainforest).

Today we make a classic Liberian dish, chicken gravy. This meal consists of not only chicken but shrimp and fish steaks as well. I decided to omit the fried fish and use additional shrimp instead. At the heart of traditional African stews lies tomatoes, garlic, and herbs along with other complementary ingredients to increase the savory and heartiness. Liberian cuisine alike other West African countries include plantains, cassava, rice, yams, and other local fruits and vegetables. Local seafood and fish is the primary meat source of Liberians diet however poultry and other red meat can be eaten on occasion. You can find this recipe here.

Preparation and cooking was simple. This is another good option for a week night meal that can simmer while you cram in a 30 minute work out or finish up a blog post (maybe that’s just me..). I look back now and would have added more tomato paste to thicken up the sauce.

So we had never experienced chicken and shrimp together before and thought it was pretty good! The sauce as I said earlier should have been thicker, however the herbs and ginger really pulled through. It had unique elements, but was an easy meal with common ingredients. We thought it was tasty and rated it 6.5/10.

Next up we head to Zimbabwe for another tender chicken meal!